Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prize

The art world calendar is punctuated each year by the Archibald, Wynne, and Sulman Prize presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Artists from around the country try their luck, pay $50 and cover the cost of freight to the gallery in order to enter their work into the prize. With over 1000 entries coming through the packing room doors it is a competitive process for all artists involved, but you have to be in it to win it!

Given the sheer scale and competition of the prize, it is unsurprising that the final selection and overall winners are always a talking point that not everyone agrees on. But, this is my blog and I decide what goes to print. Although the winners are yet to be released, here is a list of some favourites from each selection with commentary for your reading pleasure.



I’ve long admired Clara’s work. Her paintings make me feel quiet and reflective, like I have travelled to a different time and place that is simpler, somewhere with less social media. I especially loved her 2015 series that showed at MiCK Gallery.


Natasha Bieniek took the 2015 Wynne Prize AND the 2015 Portia Geach Memorial Award. Get it, gurl. Natasha creates miniature works inspired from time spent in Japan post finishing her degree in painting at the VCA.



Nick Stathopoulos paints beautiful, mesmerising portraits. His work has been in the Archibald Prize many times, as well as the Salon des Refusés, and the prestigious BP Portrait Awards.


Mirra Whale is a talented,  talented artist. She has the unique ability to paint expressively in an incredibly nuanced way. Her works have a true ‘likeness’ to the sitter. Often looking away from the viewers gaze, her sitters seem to be captured in a moment of thought, unaware of being watched.


Imants Tillers. Praise. Bow down.

From top to bottom:
Clara Adolphs Terry Seiro oil on canvas, Natasha Bieniek Wendy Whiteley oil on board, Prudence Flint Shower oil on linen, Nick Stathopolous Deng oil on canvas, Mirra Whale Philip Nitschke oil on canvas, Imants Tillers Double reality self portrait acrylic, gouache, on 64 canvas boards



Craig Handley I have always loved and probably always will. Do you also want to go to this house and drink tea in the kitchen and then jump off the cliff into the ocean and have a bonfire in that front yard? How can you not? His paintings are the Raymond Carver short stories of paintings.


Stuart Watters; a gentleman and a scholar. Stuart’s works stand out as different from the rest. They can’t be hemmed in by labels. It’s abstract, but it’s also kind of contained and composed. What does this mean for artistic representation of the Australian landscape? Where do we even go from here? I’m not sure but I’m excited.

Top to bottom:
Craig Handley The banker (or the kind of comedy) oil on linen, Stuart Watters Kultureland oil on canvas




Liberal MP Craig Kelly felt the wrath of Twitter last year when he tweeted a picture of this #fabulous work by famed artist Wendy Sharpe with something along the daft lines of ‘Do you really think this is suitable for Parliament House?’ What’s another arse in Parliament, eh Craig? I think it’s outrageously fantastic that is has been included in the Sulman Selection, a well deserved accolade.

Top to bottom:
Esther Stewart Flatland dreaming acrylic on board, Wendy Sharpe The witches oil on linen

Prize winners will be announced Friday 15 July, exhibition opens Saturday 16 July. The best of the rest, the alternative Archibald and Wynne selection is on display at
S.H. Ervin Gallery Salon des Refuses exhibition from Saturday 16 July

1 comment
  1. Jennifer Dalgleish said:

    Your passion shines through your writing, Claire. Can’t wait to see the exhibitions!


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